The Search For Ms. Right with Peter Bartula

Last Editorial Review: 6/2/2004

WebMD Live Events Transcript

'The Complete Male Handbook' author Peter Bartula joined us for a talk about sex, dating, and other trivial stuff.

The opinions expressed herein are the guest's alone. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

With a plethora of dating options available to the average man, it's not always so easy to find Ms. Right when trolling the net, hanging out in bars, and going on blind dates with friends of friends.

Part humor and part practical handbook, The Complete Male Handbook, attempts to explain the mysteries of the romantic world... From the male perspective. Topics run the gamut of modern American problems, from first dates to first kisses, from dating to introducing your girl to your friends.

"... Just remember," says Peter Bartula in the introduction to his book, "the right woman could be a beer away next Friday night, so take a tip from someone who's been there and keep plugging away."

Moderator Hello everyone and welcome! Tonight's expert is Peter Bartula, author of "The Complete Male Handbook," a fun and informative guidebook to "Sex, Dating, and Other Trivial Stuff." Feel free to ask your questions at any time by typing /ask followed by your query. Thank you very much for joining us today

Peter Bartula It's a pleasure to be here.

Moderator Since I'm the moderator, it's traditional that I snag the first question...
  ... and what I'm most curious about is how you got started with this project. What made you decide to write this book?

Peter Bartula I was a single guy trudging through the bar scene and I had a female friend who I talked about my trials and tribulations with dating and she suggested it - the rest is history!

smersh_WebMD Since you're the expert, I'll ask you -- do you think there's such a thing as 'ms. right'?

Peter Bartula Absolutely - you just have to find her.  No one is perfect, but we can all get close, you have to be willing to settle down - but not be willing to settle!

Moderator Where should one begin The Hunt?

Peter Bartula There are a variety of places - the obvious - friends, work, bar scene, singles ads... but try some different things - volunteer work, clubs, etc. Don't take Aunt Millie's hairdresser's niece on a blind date though - nothing but trouble.

Moderator If you don't mind me asking, how did you and your wife meet?

Peter Bartula We met in a bar, I was sanding the hard wood floor at my cottage, bathed with lemon fresh Joy in the lake, went to the local bar (cocky attitude in tow) said I'm going to pick-up the best looking girl in the bar, and I did - I definitely got lucky!

smersh_WebMD was it love at first site? I mean... did you KNOW?

Peter Bartula No, actually I just thought she was going to be a "summer fling"... but as we got to know each other it evolved!

Love isn't always about "infatuation" I feel that the friendship is more important (in keeping with the macho attitude) - and sex isn't a bad thing either. Had to say that or they would have revoked my Macho Club Card.

Moderator Let's talk for a moment about the art of picking up women -- and it is an art. Do the classic one liners really work, or do you suggest a more nuanced approach?

Peter Bartula I'd skip the corn-ball lines, although one friend did start a relationship by lifting a girl off the floor, setting her back down and said - "Now I can say that I've picked up the best looking girl in the bar - and it worked. That is the exception to the rule.

Girls to like funny men, however, I used one that went -  "I'm sorry, you aren't meeting your minimum enthusiasm quota.  You are either going to have to look happier or leave the bar." A bit of corn, but it worked. Just be your self and don't be afraid to show that you are more fun than the average bar flunkie!

mold28_WebMD What is your best line?

Moderator My favorite is, "Are your legs tired? 'Cuz you've been running through my mind all day!" (can't say that I've ever actually tried it in a combat situation, though...

Peter Bartula That was it, but the worst I've succeeded with was - I want to take you to breakfast, should I call you or nudge you! It helped that I already had the deal 3/4's closed when I said it, though.

mold28_WebMD What about ...Do you have a quarter? My mother told my call her when I met the woman of my dreams. Does this really work?

Peter Bartula It all depends on your delivery, appearance and the woman - everyone is different.  In my experiences, again, the cornier lines are less likely to work unless you are Mel Gibson.

mold28_WebMD So, I'm at a loss. What are women really looking for?

Peter Bartula Funny, nice but not slobbering on their shoes to serve their needs, and responsible. Younger women (under 25) tend to like "bad boys" more, but that is usually because they have some maturing do to as well. The key as much as it may sound cliche, is to be yourself - and have fun, you will have failures, but as the barber says - "Next!"

Moderator Let's turn that around for a second... what should men be looking for in a woman?

Peter Bartula Again depends on you - everyone is different and has different needs in a woman some want to be coddled, some want looks, some want stability and security.  I tell people to look at what is important to you and determine what qualities that you are looking for in a woman. Look for someone who has them, but realize that when it happens, she may have all or just some of those qualities - but at least start by figuring out your ideal woman and search from there.

Moderator Does a first date have to be awkward?

Peter Bartula Not at all, I had a first date who I laughed a bacon bit out my nose during dinner because I was laughing so hard - and it made us both laugh harder. Remember it is just as awkward for her, so if you show that you are trying to relax and let her get to know you, she will do the same.

smersh_WebMD For what it's worth, I found an excellent list of pickup lines at

Moderator That's lovely, smersh...
... thanks for sharing.

  So, Peter, what are some good first date activity ideas?

Peter Bartula I like the winery trip (if you live in a state that it is possible) because if she does drink alcohol, it will cut the tension in a non-threatening environment - it's not like you are taking her to Rocco's Meat Bar and Toaster Repair Shop, but if you don't live in such a state, be creative. You'll have plenty of opportunity to be about as exciting as an Insurance seminar after 6 months of dating.

Remember women like when men pay attention to details, but don't come off as you are ready for the altar on date 1. Coming off as desperate is not a plus. It's a balance, but finding out what she likes on the night that you meet is a good choice for date one - it shows that you actually listen to what she says - big plus.

Moderator Let's say she passes the test, so to speak, and you decide to go ahead and do the next date. Have you upped the ante? Do you have to outdo yourself from the first date?

Peter Bartula Not necessarily, I call date number 2 the amorphous blob date. Do a week night at her place in front of the tube or renting a movie. Can you still have fun just on each other's company? Are you bored to tears if you actually have to talk to her? This can set-up date 3 - which for the hip millennium male is usually the "Sex Date".

Moderator That actually transitions nicely into smersh's question...

smersh_WebMD  When do you think the right time to make your move is?

Peter Bartula There is no set time. Some women wait until the planets align, some may pound the posturepedic on the first date. But the third shows that you are interested in getting to know her a bit before sex, so that she doesn't think that is all you want out of her. This is important to establish that you are looking for a relationship and not just the horizontal boogie.

Moderator Do you think that the nature of dating has changed significantly as we enter the twenty-first century?

Peter Bartula Absolutely, the aspects of abstinence due to religion and societal values has diminished considerably. It used to take a lot longer to onsummate the relationship, well, except for the 60's when women were just giving it away, but it is still important to show that you respect her as a person and not try and force the issue when you are ready. Let her set the pace of the sexual side of the relationship - that will help you a lot in that department later on.

Moderator Ahh... what a magical time that must've been... the 60's, that is.  Do women ever pick up men now?

Peter Bartula Absolutely, especially if they have had one too many "Lemon Drops" or equally as intoxicating beverages. The stigma of the man as the aggressor is diminishing, but I'd guess that about 85 percent is still the man leading the way.

smersh_WebMD whenever I mention the bar scene to my coworkers, they just grumble.... what's the key to making that work for you?

Peter Bartula Confidence and persistence!

I went to bars for years and I perfected approaches, and ways to make it work. The most important thing is to see who wants to be picked up, and who would rather run you through with a pick-axe than talk to you. A smile, looking around at the crowd, these are "vacancy" signs for her "pick me up hotel", make sure that her appearance level is up to snuff before you approach - remember that you will be spending a lifetime potentially with her - can you wake up with that every day.

 As much as most people don't admit it, appearance is still important in today's society.  You may not require Ms. America, but if she has liquid oozing from every pore, you probably won't be attracted to her.

Moderator Do you think that monogamy is still par for the course?

Peter Bartula I read a depressing figure that 80 percent of all men who make $75K or more cheat at some point. With the additional time apart in today's society, temptation is more prevalent. You just have to not allow it to get to you. One key - never let yourself be alone in a risqu? situation with someone that you are attracted to. The best way to not do it, is to not be in a position to do it!

Moderator So, what then, is the key to making a relationship work?

Peter Bartula What I call C&C - and I don't mean the cheesy 80's band that did "Everybody dance, now".

Communication and compromise - every day, every hour.

If you have a problem with things that she's doing, don't wait until the faucet is exploding with water, catch it when it is just a drip.  In a non-aggressive way state the issue, why resolving it will make your relationship better, and what both of you will do to meet that resolution (chances are that she will air some problems with you that she's been suppressing when you come out with some for her.)

Put the compromise in place, and if either party doesn't stick to it, discuss it again in that same non-threatening way, and resolve to not do it. Constant communication and compromise are essential - not just waiting till you are pissed and start yelling and screaming at each other.

Moderator Of course, as divorce rates skyrocket in the US, more and more people are simply living together. What do you make of this?

Peter Bartula For some people (especially older people who are more secure with their relationships) this is fine. Marriage is a bond of security. Many people want the knowledge that a commitment has been made that is hard to get out of, so you'll work out problems when they occur instead of packing up and leaving at the first sign of trouble. If you are confident that you can do that without a ring, why get the piece of paper - it certainly doesn't help you at tax time! I got married because I felt that it would make my wife more secure in our relationship, but if we didn't, I'd have been OK with it.

Moderator So, I'm afraid we've almost reached the end of our hour with Peter Bartula today...
Any closing thoughts, Sir?
  ... things we may have missed?

Peter Bartula Yes, remember the the perfect woman could be right around the corner, but you aren't going to find her by sitting on your couch and watching Friends! Get out there and keep slugging away. If you want some more advice (or just a bunch of laughs) pick up my book, The Complete Male Handbook for Sex, Dating, and Other Trivial Stuff. Also, check out the web-site

In closing - enjoy dating, it may have it's down times, but someday you'll be married with screaming kids and a mortgage that you can't afford - no matter what point of life you are at, make the most of it - there are no do-overs in life!

Moderator What's up next for you... is this the first in a series?'

Peter Bartula Maybe, the next one is tentatively titled "The Complete Married Man's Handbook for Do I Look Fat in This?, Poopie Diapers and Other Trivial Stuff - we'll see how this one does first, though. So tell everyone you know to buy it, and that will entice me to write again!!!!!!!

Moderator Well, Sir... it's certainly been a pleasure having you by today.   I've certainly passed your book along to some of my romantically-troubled friends, and they've enjoyed it quite a bit.

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